KELOWNA, B.C. — An already beleaguered coastal forestry industry may be dealt another blow as nearly 12,000 loggers and mill workers threaten to go on strike.
The Industrial, Wood and Allied Workers (IWA) of Canada have served a 72-hour strike notice, which could force those truckers who are still working on the B.C. coast to park their trucks.
"At this stage we are trying to get the industry back to the bargaining table to deal with the serious issues facing our members on the coast right now," said IWA president, Dave Haggard. "Thousands of members are out of work and it’s not only because of markets, it’s also because the companies are attacking our members and our union by selling off and contracting out their work."
He also added: "We understand that a strike will mean hardship for many small companies and coastal communities and we do not want to go down that path if we can avoid it. But for the life of me, I don’t know how we are supposed to deal with the issues, when the companies won’t even sit down and talk to us."
Haggard blames the three largest forestry companies in the region Weyerhaeuser, Interfor and TimerWest on the impending strike.
Meanwhile, Forest Industrial Relations is the bargaining agent for the forestry companies. It says the union’s demands include about $140 million in wage increases and that the IWA isn’t taking into account the financial turmoil most forestry producers find themselves in.
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